Saturday’s double bill at the Music Academy of the West is wholly saturated with the spirit of Thespis, of whom legend says that he was the first performer to step apart from the chorus and sing his own song — the first performer, perhaps, with a name; the first star. I mean that the two events discussed below celebrate the unique, personal achievement of certain individual Fellows, Vocal or Instrumental, and not their work as members of the team.
The Saturday morning session of the Marilyn Horne Song Competition is open 10 a.m. to noon in Hahn Hall, 1070 Fairway Road; the afternoon session is 1 to 5:30 p.m. in the same venue. No amount of ardent promotion could be as effective as the bare facts here: beautiful young voices singing beautiful old songs — and new ones. And if you are attending both sessions, or either one, you might as well make it a picnic, too.
There are separate admissions to the morning session ($16) and to the afternoon ($24) — prices include Miraflores facility fee — and the tickets are not available online, only at the door or from the ticket office at 805.969.8787.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, in The Granada Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara, Andrew Grams will conduct the Academy Festival Orchestra in this year’s Concerto Night. Six outstanding young musicians emerged from a field of 19 Music Academy Fellows, taking part in the 2012 Concerto Competition Finals on July 7, to win the honor, the thrill and the invaluable experience of soloing in front of this grand orchestra of their peers. The six are flautists Gina Hughes and Daniel Sharp, violinists Yunyoung “Jennifer” Choi and Zachary Spontak, cellist Ahyoung “Julia” Choi, and pianist Jie Yuan.
The Concerto Night program will consist of the following concerted works, or movements thereof (movements designated by Roman numerals): Igor Stravinsky’s Concerto in D-Major for Violin and Orchestra (I-II), Zachary Spontak, violin; Carl Nielsen’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Gina Hughes, flute; Johannes Brahms’ Concerto in A Minor for Violin and Cello, Opus 102 (I), Jennifer Choi, violin, and Julie Choi, cello; André Jolivet’s Concerto for Flute and String Orchestra, Daniel Sharp, flute; and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1 in b-flat-minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 23 (I), Jie Yuan, piano.
When two flautists win the chance to solo, one sort of assumes that one of them will be playing Nielsen’s sumptuous concerto. That the other would play the Jolivet piece — instead of the safer choice of Mozart, Pergolesi or Reinecke — comes as something of a surprise, although a pleasant and natural one.
On the other hand, it was Sharp’s playing of this work that won him his spot on the Concerto Night schedule, so those who attended the final round of the competition will have the edge on the rest of us. Jolivet (1905-1974) went through many changes of style as his composing evolved. He began as a disciple of Debussy, Dukas and Ravel, then veered rather sharply into atonality and serialism (Schönberg and Varèse), before beginning a correction that drew upon animism and ancient magic. Without ever having been an overt follower of Stravinsky or neo-classicism, Jolivet famously rejected both in a statement made after World War II (“French music owes nothing to Stravinsky!”). Since this announcement led quite soon to his producing a number of marvelous concertos, including this one for flute, we can hardly take exception or accuse him of flip-flopping.
Tickets to the Concerto Night are $100 (loge box seat), $48, $38, and $10. Click here to purchase tickets online or by phone at 805.969.8787. Tickets are also available from the Granada box office at 805.899.2222.